The Book of Romans
The theological term justification relates to one’s standing with God. The individual’s legal status is changed from guilty to not guilty. It is a matter of the individual being declared just or righteous in God’s sight. One is justified by being brought into a legal union with Christ. Justification is more than just asking God for forgiveness of sin, but it is a reestablishment of one’s relationship with God that results in a change in the condition of the heart. Justification refers to an act of God in which He declares the sinner righteous. This righteousness is not something that humanity can work out but it is something that God demands and God provides.
In chapters 1-5, Paul has established that mankind is in need of justification because of Adam’s sin in the garden. Universal condemnation or death for humanity is the result of Adam’s sin, but because of Christ’s obedience grace flourishes so that many or all humanity can experience an abundant spiritual life. Justification not only declares the believer righteous before God it also results in a more abundant life. It is a union with Christ that results in a new kind of life, a righteous life of obedience to God.
Justification takes place the moment the individual trusts Christ. At the moment of conversion the sinner is declared righteous and the quilt of sin and death are removed. At the moment of conversion one is justified and God begins a continuing work in the life of the believer so that he can bear a likeness to God. Sanctification is a life-long process by which one’s moral condition is brought into conformity with one’s legal status before God. Justification declares the sinner righteous; sanctification makes the sinner righteous. Justification removes the guilt and penalty of sin; sanctification removes the growth and the power of sin. Justification is an instantaneous occurrence, complete at the moment of conversion. Sanctification is a process requiring an entire lifetime for completion. Sanctification is a supernatural work; it is something done by God. It is not something that the individuals can do for themselves. Justification means the guilt and penalty of sin is removed, not the power of sin in this life. Sanctification is God providing the believer guidance for living the Christian life. Sanctification begins at the inception of the believer’s salvation, is coextensive with his life on earth, and will reach its climax and perfection when Christ returns. Therefore, sanctification may be viewed as past, present, and future or instantaneous, progressive, and final; in other words, positional, progressive, and complete.
I. Abuse of Divine Grace, Vs 1-3
- V 1, What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? The question is raised by the statement found in Romans 5:20-21, Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. To continue in sin is an abuse of Divine Grace and the believer would be denying his identity in Christ. Positional sanctification means that through the offering of the body of Jesus the believer is “once for all” separated unto God. As far as his standing before God is concerned, the believer is “perfect forever”. Justification by faith is more than a legal matter between the believer and God; it is a living relationship.
- V 2, God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? If God has declared the believer to be righteous and has removed the guilt of sin, then can a believer continue in sin? Paul answers the question forcefully by responding with the words “God forbid.” Justification means that the guilt or penalty of sin has been removed, not the power of sin in the life. Therefore, the believer will never die to sin as long as we are in this life. But the believer has died to sin in the person of our substitute, Jesus Christ. The goal of sanctification is for the believer, still living in the old sin nature, to reach the place where he wants to live for God. Galatians 2:20, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. No one is able to crucify himself! You may be able to nail one hand to the cross by how are you going to nail the other hand to the cross? The believer has died to sin “in” Christ, that is our position, but we never dead to sin in this life.
- V 3, Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? The word baptized is this verse does not refer to water baptism but to the believer’s identification with Christ through His death. I Corinthians 12:13, For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. Romans 8:13, For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Romans 8:16, The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
II. Dying with Christ, Vs 4-10
- V 4, Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. The believer cannot deliberately live in sin since the believer has a new relationship to sin because of his identification with Christ. Lazarus’ resurrection helps to illustrate this truth. Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived at Bethany. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead he was released from his grave clothes to walk in newness of life. John 11:25, Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. The believer has died to the old life; he has been raised to enjoy a new life. I Peter 3:21, The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter tells us that eight people who were inside the ark and did not get wet were saved by baptism. The word baptism has nothing to due with water in this case, but identification. The eight people had believed God and had gotten into the ark. Therefore, there was identification with God that saved them.
- V 5, For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. The believer having been grafted together in the likeness of Christ’s death is also connected or united in likeness of His resurrection. The believer shares the life of Christ as a limb grafted into a tree shares the life of the tree. The life of Christ is our life now.
- V 6-10 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. The “Old Man” describes the entire inner person before conversion, the person connected to the sin nature of Adam. The believer is no longer enslaved to the old sinful nature. The believer can share in the resurrection in Christ today and one day the believer will share in the resurrection from the grave.
III. The Old Life to be Reckoned as Dead, Vs 11-12
V 11-12, Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive into God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. The believer before conversion was under the bondage and enslavement of sin, but now being identified with the death and resurrection of Christ, the believer is free to resist sin. Sin is still a problem for the believer and can express itself through the mortal body, the body that is still subject to physical death. The difference is that sin has no right to reign. Therefore, Paul encourages the believer no to obey sin and to resist it.
Positional sanctification puts the believer “in” Christ. But this is only the beginning of our journey. Because the believer is “in’ Christ, God places into the heart of the believer the desire to live for Christ. This is why sanctification is a process. The believer is free to resist sin in his mortal body and live in the likeness of Christ in this life.
Created and Researched by Pastor Dennis Baker
Zion Baptist Church
3485 New Baumgartner Rd. - St. Louis, MO 63129 - Phone: 314-846-1867